Many powerhouse colleges will pack over 100,000 into their stadium for every game, no matter how bad the opponent is. Fans and alumni are normally crazy over their local team. Fans who attended a university often take much greater pride in their Alma matter doing well than the professional team down the road. College football games features incredible passion and energy. With exciting dual threat QBs like Denard Robinson, the variety of college offenses and all the points that get scored on Saturday you might think that college football draws more TV viewers than the NFL but this isnít true at all.
The past Superbowl drew 111 million fans while the National Championship drew 24 million. In 2010 CBS led the way with college ratings of 7 million viewers for SEC games. Add all of the networks up and they totalled just over 20 million viewers on Saturdays with the highest rated game the Iron Bowl at 12.5 million. The NFL ruled in 2010 with 18 of the highest rated 20 shows on TV being NFL games. Sunday Night Football alone averaged well over 20 million viewers a night. Each game averaged almost 18 million viewers for the NFL Ė far more than the highest rated regular season college game that year. So why is it that national TV ratings for college football are much lower than the NFL who rules the TV world?
There are three big reasons why the NFL is king:
1) Itís a Starsí World. When you watch a premier matchup in the NFL they market the stars. Itís not just New England Patriots against the New York Giants. Itís Tom Brady and the Gronk against Eli Manning. Itís not just Green Bay against the Lions Ė its Aaron Rodgers going up against Matt Stafford and Megatron Calvin Johnson. All professional sports leagues market their games around their stars to attract viewers. This is incredibly difficult in college football as most great players only stick around 1-2 years and are gone to the NFL. By the time you learn who is great they have already left.
2) Fantasy Football. An estimated 30 million people play fantasy football. While itís hard to determine if this leads directly to people watching NFL games it certainly doesnít hurt. Furthermore, fans of the NFL are more informed than ever while participating in fantasy football (at least on the offensive side of the ball). Most fantasy football veterans could name every teamís starting QB, RB and probably at least one WR of the 32 NFL teams. There would be very, very few people that could do that for 32 teams in college football.
3) Any Given Sunday. The level of parity in the NFL is very strong. On any given Sunday a lousy team can surprise a great team. Upsets happen and most games are competitive. In 2011 the team with the highest margin of victory was New Orleans at 13 points per game. Only 25% of the NFL teams had a margin of victory greater than +/- 7 points. In the NCAA, Alabama and Houston had margins of victory close to 27 points a game in 2011. New Mexico was a -30. 50% of the college teams had a margin of victory greater than +/- 7 points. Thatís double the NFL. College games simply arenít as competitive. The gap in talent is huge between the good and bad teams. Combine that with far too many teams scheduling cupcakes and you probably have more interesting matchups in the NFL on a weekly basis than college despite having many more teams.
So those are my reasons why the NFL is the TV king while college football lags far behind. I donít see any of the above reasons changing either.
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